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Yingjie Wang / Staff Illustrator

With the University going virtual, most students are studying from home, tuning in to their classes from all across the globe. Although some students never had to adjust to a time zone difference while in New York, many students have been recalibrating their hours to EST since last March. Whether you are living three hours behind Morningside Heights on the West Coast or 11 hours ahead in East Asia, here are some tips to guide you through this tough time.

1. Utilize online tools

The most obvious and perhaps annoying part of living in a different location is that scheduling becomes much more complicated. To accommodate multiple time zones, your activities might be scattered throughout your day. However, this can be managed with the right tools. For starters, you should find a time zone converter. You can start with the one from, which allows you to view time zones around the world, or, which lets you visually compare the timelines of different time zones for free.

To take it one step further, it may be a good idea to let go of your paper planner when you are scheduling events across multiple time zones. Instead, use a digital calendar such as Google Calendar, which allows you to set up events based on time zones. Rather than manually converting time with apps like, digital calendars typically note both the time and associated time zone when you’re planning events on your schedule, and they’ll even convert the time for you. Additionally, Google Calendar (and a few other calendar apps like Fantastical) allows you to have a secondary time zone, and lets you easily share your schedule with your family, friends, and team members so that you can organize your meetings with them more easily.

2. Limit yourself to one time zone

Although having two clocks running on different time zones can be useful, it may be easier to schedule events in your local time zone. Though much of your coursework and university life is online, your life is still local. Scheduling all your events in your local time will allow you to plan your day and make appointments with your friends and family more easily.

Nevertheless, you should still keep an EST clock readily available to you (on your laptop or phone) so that you can always double-check whether or not you converted the time properly. No one wants to miss a meeting because they forgot that they were 10 hours ahead of New York instead of 11.

3. Communication is key

Make sure to communicate with your family, friends, group project partners, and professors. It’s important that you keep your network informed of your availability so that they can be mindful of your time.

Additionally, since you are in a different time zone, your work hours will be different. Whether it’s letting your family know that you can’t join them for dinner or informing your E-board that you can’t make it to club meetings, make sure everyone is aware of your schedule. While many international students are formally functioning in Eastern Time, you shouldn’t have to stay up until 4 a.m. for a meeting if you can just reschedule for a time that can accommodate everyone. Everyone empathizes with the difficulties surrounding a remote semester, so don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself.

4. Know your limits and set expectations

Being in a different time zone can definitely affect your ability to stay on top of your game. You should not expect to have the same focus you would have in a lecture hall at the IAB in a class you have to take at 4 a.m. This means that you have to recognize and understand your new limits. How many classes can you realistically handle during the night? What is your cutoff time to go to bed, even if it means missing a meeting? Make sure you check in with yourself about your capabilities now that you have a good feel for remote classes. Don’t beat yourself up if you cannot work as productively or efficiently as in previous semesters.

5. Allocate enough time for sleep

For those in time zones with a difference of six hours or more, it is inevitable that your sleep schedule is going to be affected. As such, you should make a commitment to try to let yourself fall asleep at a consistent hour everyday and to wake up at the same time. This way, you can have a set number of work hours within your own unconventional time zone. Not only will this help you coordinate and plan out your days, but it will also ensure that you are still getting a healthy seven to 10 hours of sleep. Creating an event on your digital calendar dedicated to sleep can be  a great way to make sure that you don’t schedule meetings or have classes while you’re asleep. Lastly, it is important to pay attention to your circadian rhythm. The biological clocks inside our body are synced to the sun, so make sure to close your blinds or curtains when you are going to sleep and to get some Vitamin D during the day.

6. Use the time difference to your advantage

Rather than fighting the time difference, you can use it to your advantage. For example, if you are ahead of Eastern Time, rather than thinking of your assignment as being due on Sunday morning EST, tell yourself that the assignment is due on Sunday in your local time, and optimize the “extra” hours to get your assignment done ahead of time so that you can ask any last-minute questions or make last minute edits.

7. Don’t forget about daylight saving time

Although daylight saving is exclusive to certain parts of the world, you still have to remember when to adjust your schedule. On the first Sunday of November, New York will shift its time forward by one hour. This may lead to your classes becoming earlier or later than what you’re used to, so mark this event before it happens so that you aren’t taken by surprise next month.

Staff writer Time is currently in Bangkok. The tips he wrote in this article have helped him through his 11 hour time difference with New York. He can be contacted at Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

International International Student Time Zone Time Difference Time Time Management Productivity Virtual Online Remote
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